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finding joy part II

I made reference to a sermon in my last post, but didn't do the greatest job actually explaining what the sermon was all about so here is the link.


is walter henegar reading my mail?

A few posts ago I decided to test God's promises in the area of resurrecting his joy in my life. Today's sermon was strangely close to that topic...ok, WAS the topic. I honestly wanted to stand up and ask if Walter, our pastor at Westside, was reading my mail?  He was contrasting just after the birth of Jesus, the troubled, unsettled and distressed life of King Herod with the great delight, joy and clear conscience freedom of the Wise Men.
I always appreciate so much a sermon that puts me back in a place of examination of the true state of my own heart, not in a place of " be better and be like the Wise men". I know good and well that philosophy doesn't work because as I'm heading out the church door, I've already forgotten my resolution. However, the reminder that as a Christian I am still living with traces of BOTH these characters in my heart, and will continue to struggle and be somewhere on the spectrum between them; and by God's grace, will grow to be more of one and less of the other in my lifetime. This is refreshing. This causes me to want to be honest about the real me, and the Herod within. So often I can't even see that I am a Herod, much less lay my selfishness before God. I am amazed by God's conviction and timing in my life. As I've mentioned before, I've recently been so joyless and ungrateful. The worst part is that I haven't even seen that about myself at all. I don't know what happened but several days ago I started seeing it. This had to be God. Through conversations with a few close friends, my brother and through this sermon, I am beginning to be melted and see some of these areas of sin. How have I been so blind?  I am constantly focused on my plan for my life, my image before others, not on God, the only one worthy of my worship. All I have to do is acknowledge this to the true King Jesus, and take hold of him once again. There is no new method, I keep forgetting that. Simply put it is repentance and faith. Repentance and faith which leads us back.

i never tire of these lyrics

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth. 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born; 

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. 
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming, 
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. 
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; 
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 

Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in his name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim! 

His power and glory ever more proclaim!


christmas eve inspiration

I admittedly had a demitasse of strong coffee tonight. Every year we trade off with dear family friends after the Christmas Eve service ends, eat chili together and have true blast. They have 3 kids plus one new husband, we have 5 and we all enjoy the company of one another greatly. Once home tonight, I decided to surf around for new job postings. Right after feeling settled about the idea of several good, sensible and generally average corporate options that I found, I ran into something truly inspiring!
I am totally moved by this teacher who is doing amazing stuff through music in a New York City Elementary school--PS 22. He brings out amazing soul and life in these kids! They work together so well for a common goal. I love the diversity of the students too.  I had to post two of my favorite songs that they happened to have sung. Check them out. Seeing things like this completely throws off any desire for average career plans and makes me totally want to go for broke towards something that I love and something that will give life, freedom and hope to others as well.


true joy

Yesterday, I had a wonderful conversation with a sibling about the concept of "joy" in the life of a Christian. Seemed perfect this time of year since it's not a word in short supply. But living life out of true joy, I believe, is. I think I realized through the course of our discussion, that my own life has been mostly devoid of any joy for several years now. I don't know the reason explicitly, but I know that disappointment with remaining single, lack of direction for my career, relational pains, and an overall thankless heart have played their parts.   He was recalling the story of someone he knew whose life was dramatically changed as they were freed up by God from some personal issues where their literal countenance changed. They now seem to be a different person as a result of that freedom and they have a true joy that radiates out of their life and spills over to others. They are free to be themselves and to just enjoy life and people in a more authentic way.  I really want that true joy in my own life. I truly do not want to live based on the circumstances going on in my life, up when things are up and down when things aren't going my way;  but based on that deeper, abiding sense of God's unmanageably massive love for me, presence and power in my life which propels me out to others and creates a genuine rest within. I know this is possible and freely offered in the gospel, the good news of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for me, and I have only to take of it. That's the hardest part. Letting hands go free of the things that I want to take (which are cheap substitutes that lure me in and then suck me dry, or leave me needing more but delivering a deeper emptiness). Instead I want to take of this fruit, this strength, this life-- joy. I am beginning to pray more regularly for this to be true of my life and want to record that somewhere. It is scary to openly trust the Lord for something new and to tell others. What if he doesn't deliver? What if I'm a failure and nothing changes? I think that's just the ticket. I will fail. God might not "deliver" in human terms. His ways can't be contained, so I'm going to stop trying to contain him and ask him to answer me in his way and in his time. I'm going to ask him for a true joy in himself alone to emerge.

"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoke to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." john 15:7-11

I returned home from a family gathering this afternoon and opened up a card that came in the mail. It was beautiful and the first card I have received all season long that didn't have anyone's picture on the front. :)


angle tree twist

Today I delivered some Angel Tree gifts to a grandmother who did not look like your average granny. She raises three children in the inner city because their father is in prison. She is 60 years old, looks 45, and had a black knit cap pulled down tight over her short hair with reading glasses on. She was super feisty and after a good hour of chatting told me she would have grabbed the Christmas loot & shoved me out the door right away if she hadn't gotten a good vibe from me. She also mentioned something about her, wait...she actually mentioned a pistol 4 or 5 times altogether while I was there. She fought against the State of GA to get her grandchildren out of the foster care system, where there was much abuse going on, for three years and finally after a personal email to Governor Perdue, she was able to get them back. It has been a rough road for them, but she is a stable and loving influence in their lives. The house had a fresh tree decorated in the corner, and I carefully placed each package under it. Two gifts per child. I'm sure that's the most they will be getting. She was baking sweet Gingerbread cookies with half raisins for eyes and the kids were begging for her to make a homemade Gingerbread house. She told them that was too much and they were sad. BUT! For some reason this morning I decided to stop and look for a Gingerbread house kit to bring along, so when she mentioned it....Voila! She enthusiastically decided to hide it from them until Christmas Eve and bring it out as a special surprise.

God has a way of making something out of what seems like nothing.  It has been and is still a very hard season in my life. It has brought me to an incredibly honest place in my relationship with the Lord, and with people. I have never experienced such a moment by moment need for God's strength and joy to get through the day. This has made my conversations with people much more honest as well. So driving to this lady's home today I didn't even pray before I went in, I didn't even think about how to strategically share the gospel with her, or what kind of questions to ask, I honestly felt like I had nothing to give, so why was I even doing this?

I planned to be in and out in 20 minutes or less. That was my honest heart about the whole delivery situation. We ended up talking for several hours as I listened to her tell me a little bit more in detail about her life and how hard it has been and nodded my head in sympathetic agreement that I understood.. Our lives were not the same, but I understood the need to daily.....hourly......moment by moment... give my burdens back to the Lord. I understood, and am still learning how to cry out to God with a wordless groaning when it seems like there is no other way to express it. I understand that it is hard to continue to trust when nothing is changing and things seem hopeless. I understand wanting more of this life than it seems is possible.... Yes, yes and yes. I feel you.

She looked at me and said that she thought it might be good to find a place to worship with the kids and asked me what church I went to. She said it was because if a young, white girl with presents could come to her house and tell her that my life hard, imperfect and that I needed Jesus every moment, then she believed that the church I attended must be the kind of  place that was real and somewhere that she would want to go.
 I gave her the website and told her that they are all most welcome any time. I shook my head as I closed the door behind me and walked out. Here I am in one of the darkest seasons of my life that creates an opportunity for a mutual exchange about real, earthy struggles with someone who is so different than me, but really very much the same. One more proof to stop thinking about reaching out and loving people "when I'm better", or "when I have it together", or "when my heart is on fire for God". I'm thankful for this reminder today. Tomorrow I will need another, because that's just how slow I am to believe God. He is gracious and I know he will remind me again that he works all things together for good. Even Angel Tree deliveries.

endurance in suffering

Fantastic short podcast on suffering. Scroll down to the bottom of the page...

CCEF | Restoring Christ to Counseling and Counseling to the Church


design project across the ocean?

I always love helping people make their spaces more appealing, especially when they are missionaries in a large foreign country with billions of people living in concrete block high rise communities where everything can tend to look the same and feel very cold. My friend emailed me some pictures of her living room and asked for some suggestions, so I'm really excited to get to work cybergesting some pieces to finish up her space. First and foremost, I give you,  her cute children.

Here are two shots of the living room and the view to the open dining area.

The three main things I'm going to be thinking about are a rug, curtains and a coffee table. I might throw in a few other little things to "fluff" along the way. I'll be back!


movie action part two

After taking a walk right through the crew with our dogs pretending we weren't curious at all, and then meeting a crew member who was directing traffic in front of my parent's home all day, we learned a few things but didn't catch any glimpses of Jason Bateman or Ryan Reynolds.The movie is actually called, "The Change Up" and has been filming in Atlanta for several months. It's halfway through and the 12 hour day the crew spent here will equal exactly 15 seconds of film time. We met a cool guy named Sean Love who happened to be an extra in the movie as well. He said the director needed a big black dude to snort some cocaine, so he was asked to step in. Hmmm, that's not stereotypical.  Afterward the director (also directed "The Hangover" and "Wedding Crashers"), came up to him and thanked him and told him that he did a great job, so he was excited to have his picture taken with us possibly his first fans. Turns out it all stunt doubles were doing the driving scene in the gold Ranger Rover, meant to be Jason's character's vehicle on the way to pick up his child from school, also filmed at a school a block away. In the dark they started filming with the block lit up like a Christmas tree. Folks, that's all we've got. A 12 hour day driving up and down the same road. Oh, and they did the shots in rain and shine, just in case the director changes his mind. JB and RR have eaten some good food while they've been here though, so that makes me happy. Ecco, Aria and the amazing Antico for fantastic Westside pizza! 


ryan reynolds in the parker house...sort of

This afternoon I got a call from my mom. We love her, she's hilarious. She told me that she had a note in her mailbox saying a movie was going to be filmed this coming Saturday, December 11, on her street. Not just any movie, but a movie with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman! "I just love that Ryan Reynolds, he's so cute" (like they are friends), and "I called the phone number and I just told those people that I have a Christmas party this Saturday night and I really hope that I can get out of my driveway!" And then I asked them, "Does it really take 12 hours to film one driving scene?" Classic Mom.
After I asked a few more questions I found out that they are in fact closing off specifically my parent's block, which really only has two houses on it, and there will be police escorts for the day to let them in and out. Kind of exciting. The movie is called, "Change Up" and I'm pretty sure I'll be hanging out over there just in case someone famous walks by or an extra keels over and they need to grab me and pull me in. More to come on this one.


the little house

It's the 60th Anniversary of a precious book by Virginia Lee Burton.  I heard about it tonight as Caroline Herring performed. The perfect way to end a crazy week. I couldn't help but think about how closely the book resembles my life story in so many ways, and only from a limited perspective of course. I don't want to give it away if you've never read it but it's a good one!!


Stones of rememberance for the Teacheys

There are moments in my life that swell with memory and emotion, that seem like minutes went by as days and I can still recall them as if they are happening in the next room. I was privileged to be a part of a recent series of events in the life of some members of the body of Christ in my church, Atlanta Westside,  that I want to recall to tell about God's faithfulness and to have as reminders to the Teacheys of God's amazing hand in every detail of their lives when the hard days come.

My life is personally changed because of these moments and I will be forever grateful to God for them. The morning of Doug's accident I was sitting at my computer in my bathrobe and had received an email that I was not offered a job that I had interviewed for. I wondered what I would or should do that day and where to go from there as that was not the greatest start to a Monday. I briefly prayed and asked the Lord for a purpose for the day, for some sort of work to do that would be honoring to him in some way even though I did not have a typical work day ahead. Five minutes later I received a call from another Westside member who asked me if I could drive Jenna down to Montgomery to the hospital as it would not be good for her to go alone. I agreed very quickly and then stopped to think about it while gathering my things. (Side note: I am the person who doesn't like hospitals, doctors, needles, blood, anyone in a white coat or scrubs makes me nervous, even the blood pressure machine at a grocery store is freaky, what the heck did I just agree to?!) This is where the sweetness of God's way stepped in. Had I not been lead by him to pray that prayer I know I would have doubted his call to go that day and would probably have backed out. As I was reminded of the words I had just said, I felt confirmed that he was completely in the details and that it was my place to go, not knowing at all what I would face but in the Lord's strength. "He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!" came to mind.

Another moment that is emblazoned in my mind came about after sitting in a small room with Jenna and two surgeons who had come out to talk with us in the midst of surgery. We listened to the first real news that we were given face to face after a day's wait. It was hard news and that was the first mention of possible amputation in order to save Doug's life. We immediately left the small room and walked right across the hall to the hospital's chapel. I've never been more appreciative of a chapel in a hospital in my life. It was late, so the waiting room was empty, the halls were clear and the door was unlocked. We entered and walked down to the front pew. We kneeled down on the pew and started to pray. It was a powerful moment and experience of God's presence more than any I have ever experienced. I clearly remember Jenna's prayer of "Lord please let my husband live, and if he has to lose his leg then we will praise you still; if he loses his life Lord, then I will still praise you". As we continued to pray, Jenna said that she wanted to sing a song which was Elie's favorite, "Our God". We started to sing in that little chapel, kneeling down in the front, no one else around, with all of our hearts. I distinctly recall the feeling that I was the weakest person on earth at that moment, with absolutely nothing to say, no perfect prayers, no true comfort but a river of God's spirit and power were flowing like a mighty rushing wind, through that little chapel. After a time we stood up to leave and I looked back. There was a huge stained glass window at the front of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulder. A sweet reminder of his care and love for us, his sheep.

Finally, we waited another hour or more alone until we were told to go up to the 7th floor where Doug would be in Surgical ICU for the night. We proceeded up the elevator and were greeted by another empty waiting room. Empty until we rounded the corner and saw on the far side, someone huddled under a blanket curled up & asleep. We picked our spot and opened up the Bible to read feeling tired, fearful and alone in another cold, sterile room. The woman woke and stood up a little while later. We asked her who she was waiting for and what was her name. Thinking we might pray together she beat us to it. She came over, grabbed our hands and was honestly like an angel sent from God to speak the words that we were too tired to speak. Her name was Mrs. Anita and she was a dear lady. We decided to leave the hospital around Midnight to find the hotel. Of course I got lost with GPS AND a map, and was frustrated that after all, what is a real estate agent good for if not for this?! But once again, God was in the details. I had put in a cd that morning that I had just gotten from some friends, Abe and Bethany Okie, which was a new set of hymns they had just released, but to new tunes. The perfect songs came on, "What Er My God Ordains Is Right", and "The King Of Love My Shepherd Is". The words were sweet and Jenna laid back in the seat and tried to sleep while I consumed the comforting lyrics and in a round about way, got us to our hotel at last.

"No poision be in the cup, that my physician sends me" was a line that struck me about our relationship to God and his deep, deep heart of love for us. I will post links to these two songs as soon as I can, they are wonderful.

There are plenty more moments to recall, but these are reminders of God's goodness, presence, power and perfect timing that I remember. I am so incredibly thankful for these experiences in my life and wanted to say thank you to Doug and Jenna for letting me be a part of their lives during these few days. I am forever grateful and I know that for every person in our body who has been involved in this story, there are hundreds more evidences of God's faithfulness. When Satan tempts them to despair of their current situation in the days to come, I hope that they will know God is using their story to make many of us more like himself, to redeem the world, to gather his sheep and to give us a place in his kingdom of value and purpose. These events have helped me to believe that it is true and to trust God's loving hand more than I ever have. Thank you Teacheys!

(Another side note: I wanted to post a picture of myself with the Teacheys on this entry but the only one I could find was a gritty version of Doug in a Grim Reaper outfit from a few Halloween's ago. I recall he scared off all of the happy neighborhood children to Jenna's utter embarassment. Doug, you're hilarious!)


A wedding tribute to my dear friend Sandy

My dear friend and mentor from UGA was married on Sunday evening to a wonderful man named John on top of a beautiful cliff outside of Greenville, SC. Because it was a small wedding there were around 90 attendees total and that meant the rehearsal dinner could go on for hours as all 90 of us had significant things to share. I'm often the procrastinator when it comes to this sort of thing and in this case that was a bad choice, as the moment passed me by. What I wanted to say was this:

"Sandy, you are the ultimate pursuer of relationships of any person that I have ever known. Throw into the mix that I was somewhat of an unruly Campus Crusader who basically asked you to go away and never come back to my sorority house (the first time we ever met). It's true. I'm embarrassed to say this but I honestly didn't understand why you would always stop by and talk with girls that in my mind you hardly knew, would leave them notes and candy, bake brownies, and basically were sharing the love of Christ with college women through your actions and words regularly. That was the start of our friendship and I am forever grateful. I continued to not make it easy for you and yet you continued to pursue me in love.

Secondly, you have the most contagious laugh of anyone that I know. You make me feel like I am the funniest person in the world when I am around you. I know that I'm really not that funny, but for some reason I believe that I am every time we get together. You are very free with your laughter and it is contagious.

You have encouraged and employed the gifts that you have seen in me and helped me to grow to strengthen them. How many other people would let me into the messy places in their lives (literal places) to do what I enjoy (organizing) at the risk of exposing yourself and would also enter into the messy places of mine on many occasions with a spirit of love and grace.

Finally, you are the best at asking good questions. I can not recall a single time when we have had a conversation that you didn't say something to the effect of "so Hannah, when you think about ....what does that.....?"

I love you Sandy and I am so thankful for your place in my life these past 14 years. I am so excited for John that he will be the special recipient of these treasures in you, and I know in turn you will be receiving as well a host of other blessings in John. I could not have been more proud to stand with you on your wedding day as you begin your life of serving Christ together, counseling God's servants on mission fields around the world.

One last thing that I love about you is your love for coffee. So cheers to you and John, and don't forget the spoon!

Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them. " The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY.
Psalm 126: 2-3


Ask yourself daily

My brother and his wife are off for a three year expedition to The University of Durham about two hours NE of London.  Nathan will get his PhD in theology and will be studying the life and ministry of Puritan John Flavel who wrote an incredible book entitled, "Keeping The Heart". As we helped them clean and box up their home I saw a quote which was printed over the door from his study, "Oh my heart, where hast thou gone this day, and what has engaged thy thoughts?"  The heart truly is the wellspring from which every other thing flows. How revealing just one day would be to keep this on the forefront of the mind. So much to notice about my heart's condition and my need to be saved from even my own thoughts. I can't produce within myself a change. This takes me back to Jesus, and I do know that THAT is a good thing.

White or black...

...when it comes to kitchen cabinetry & countertop combinations?

Schoen: A House in the Hamptons traditional kitchen
Any thoughts?


Martha Stewart-esque FAIL

I am 2 for 2 on fails with Martha Stewart-esque projects recently. I feel good about posting them so that others might know that it's okay to fail and blog about it. The first was a batch of blueberry scones that I made to take as a housewarming gifts to friends I was visiting this past month.

Packaged them up with ribbon that I already had,

Added some personal tags,

So far so good, right? Wrong.

They tasted like biscuits, not scones. What's worse, one of the friends had a Devonshire Tea as her wedding reception! She is a total scone aficionado. I confessed after I got there that I had totally forgotten about her love for scones, and that I really wasn't bringing them because I remembered how much she loved them. I then told her they were blueberry biscuits, tried to, and I made her promise not to eat them until I left that weekend. She showed me a video from America's Test Kitchen and said it was the best scone recipe she had ever tried. Oh well, now I know where to go for scones.

FAIL #2 was more of the baby shower decoration variety. Yes, I saw a fantastic idea for a hanging mobile of sorts, made out of flowery vines and spelling out 'baby' in French. Bebe. Now...lots went wrong from this point on. It wasn't a French themed shower at all, the vines started to look weepy in the 110 degree weather we've had, and on top of it all, I hung it in front of a mirror over the mantle because it was the most central place in the room.

Like this

Can you read that? It's okay, no one could. Are you laughing yet? On top of it all, the first person that walked in took one look at it and said, "Who's Bebe?" (like Bebe gun, no French accent)
After that, not another word was said through the whole shower about the strange vines hanging in the corner spelling out the name of someone who did not exist. The baby shower was for a boy incidentally, which added nothing in terms of context clues. Oops. We're all fine here and the sweet baby boy was born on Thursday afternoon August 19, 2010, healthy and beautifully! Congratulations Laura and Joseph! Love to you!


How young is too young?

I've gone back and forth about writing specifics of dating experiences, but seeing as this will never be a blog with thousands of readers, I guess I'm just putting it out there to read again one day when I'm old and to have a good laugh. My new next door neighbor asked me out on a date this past week. Nothing wrong with that I guess. After all, he is a cute and very nice guy.  But, the rest of the story is that he is 11, possibly 12 years younger than me based on light stalking/facebook calculations.

Just graduated from college. I am 33. Any thoughts on this one?

I think famous people can get away with it, but I'm not famous. Except for this first one...I mean gross. All I can think of is the movie "Beaches", when she was dying in a chair staring at the ocean. And now she's dating Sayid?! No way. He's too cool for a pasty, dying woman.

Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews 62 and 41

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon 41 and 29

Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry 43 and 34


Death of the McMansion, Garage Mahal or Starter Castle

This is a hilarious article on the Death of "McMansions"! I had to post it because Atlanta is just littered with them! I'll take small and charming any day!
They’ve been called McMansions, Starter Castles, Garage Mahals and Faux Chateaus but here’s the latest thing you can call them — History.
In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of references made to the “McMansion glut” and the “McMansion backlash,” as more towns pass ordinances against garishly large homes, which are generally over 3,000 square feet and built very close together.
What sets a McMansion apart from a regular mansion, according to Wikipedia, are a few characteristics: They’re tacky, they lack a definitive style and they have a “displeasingly jumbled appearance.”
Well, count 2010 as the year the last nail was hammered into the McCoffin: In its latest report on home-buying trends, real-estate site Trulia declares: “The McMansion Era Is Over.”
Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 feet.
“That’s something that would’ve been unbelievable just a few years back,” said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia. “Americans are moving away from McMansions.”
The comments echoed those made in June by Kermit Baker, the chief economist at the American Institute of Architects.
“We continue to move away from the McMansion chapter of residential design, with more demand for practicality throughout the home,” Baker said. “There has been a drop off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts, and gazebos.”
“McMansions just look and feel out of place today, given the more cautious environment everyone’s living in,” said Paul Bishop, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors.
And homebuilders are heeding the call: In a survey of builders last year, nine out of 10 said they planned to build smaller or lower-priced homes.

Even in Texas, the land of go big or go home, they’re downsizing.

Diane Cheatham, owner of Urban Edge Developers in Dallas, said today, the average size of home they’re building is 2,200 square feet, down from 2,500 in 2005 — which was considered small for Dallas back then.
She said the trend there is more toward building green homes instead of big homes. Right now, they’re building a 1,200-square-foot uber-green home for a couple that’s downsizing from 3,000-square feet, Cheatham explained.

1,200? Some of the hair in Texas is bigger than that!

For a little historical context, 1,200 square feet was the average home size in America in the 1960s. That grew to 1,710 square feet in the 1980s and 2,330 square feet in the 2000s.
What’s more, many in the real-estate business say they think this trend of downsizing, or “right-sizing,” as Flint likes to call it, is here to stay.
“This is absolutely a long-term effect,” he said. “Think of families with small children who’ve been foreclosed upon … When these teenagers are in a position to buy a home, they won’t want to go through these experiences they saw their parents go through.”

Of course, the question becomes, what do we do with all these McMansions that have already been built?
It's tempting to make jokes about what you might do with a former McMansion but with crime on the rise in neighborhoods littered with abandoned McMansions, Christopher Leinberger, in an article for the Atlantic, asked a sobering question: Is this the next slum?
Luckily, people are starting to get creative: A film collective in Seattle has taken over a 10,000-square foot McMansion there, using it for both living and work space. They turned a wine closet into an editing room and tossed a green screen in the garage. And in a suburb of San Diego, one couple turned a former McMansion into a home for autistic adults.
The demise of the McMansion has stirred a growing chorus of murmurs in the real-estate community about the possibility that it may force a dramatic redesign of the suburban McMansion tracts into mini-towns of their own, turning these icons of excess into more practical spaces like offices, banks, grocery stores and movie theaters.

Though, given some of the poor quality of materials and craftsmanship, it begs the question, would it be better to just tear them all down and start from scratch?



My new favorite place

Greenville! Who knew it was such a cute town, and only two hours away?! I can't believe I've never been there before. When I was little we used to drive through on our way to Spartanburg, S.C. to see my three great aunts, two of which never married and lived together all of their lives. They ate bacon every single day, drank black coffee, put baby oil on their faces and had hardly a wrinkle when they died around 100 years old.

 Anyway, I'm sure we stopped at a gas station or for lunch but I didn't remember Greenville at all.  I got to see two friends while I was there. First stop, my sorority sister from college, Stacey and her family, who live in a darling house downtown, which they have done some very fun renovations to. I had to get the tour, and didn't take pictures everywhere while I was there, but wish I had! Maybe I'll get her to send me some. I loved her amazing craft/project/fun room! It was converted from their original garage, so a really good size, with laundry area on one half, hooks, cubbies and the works for all the kiddos plus really beautiful granite or some other natural stone counter tops and custom built-ins and cabinetry all around. A fantastic, massive island sits in the middle of it all with stools to go around. Stacey said she had Ava's birthday party there and they were all able to sit around and do crafts together.

I had a short, but great visit catching up with them! Love her three girls, two of which are definite red heads and the third, just can't tell yet, she was asleep during this photo.

We had fun showing the girls Stacey and Gray's wedding album, and Kate had fun showing me her best frog and horsey.

It was such a fun morning and I could have stayed all day! It really made me miss my friends from college.
As I was saying good-byes, thinking I needed 45 minutes to get to the next place I was headed, my next reason for loving Greenville became was only three minutes away! I am so programmed to the Atlanta mantra, "30-45 minutes to everywhere" that I had no idea it could be different. I know I"m a city girl with very little time in any small town or place. The main places I have lived are Atlanta and Chengdu China, which happens to be on the world's list of most populous cities. So, I headed three minutes away to pick up my next friend for lunch.

Had some amazing She-Crab soup at a fun little restaurant on the river, Larkins.

Walked around the downtown area on the river where there is a huge park, a massive suspension bridge that used to be a highway with a dammed river underneath. They opened the dam and now the river runs through. It's charming and quaint, lots of fun things to do including a symphony, a minor league baseball team with restaurants close by so you can walk to the stadium after dinner easily, shops and restaurants, the best CAKE in the world at a place I can't remember but the slices take two days to eat. Please look and know that I took the other half home in a take out box and ate it while driving back to Atlanta with no utensils. It was a mess, but worth it.

Cool brick structure is a venue for lots of events and sits on the river.

 Historic Westin Downtown

The streets of Downtown

The highlight of my visit with my next friends, Greg and Tricia Baney was by far their company as well as their cooking! I must say, every meal that I had was amazing and the presentation was too! For each meal Tricia would change the place mats, plates and other serving pieces. I really think she did it to match the actual food itself. I told them that they had given me a new appreciation for setting the atmosphere for a meal and I promised I wouldn't stand over the kitchen sink any more with a paper plate and a rolled up pancake for breakfast!

We also had a fabulous time sitting around taking, sleeping in on Saturday and waking up to amazing blueberry pancakes. I loved my time with them as well and honestly would consider a move to Greenville in the near future.

Last but not least, their cute home in Greenville that was recently purchased. It has a fantastic screened porch off the back and looks out onto the most beautiful, thick canopy of wooded green. I hope their old owner stops drive by stalking them, so they can start to enjoy their new home, alone!

Thanks friends!


People in the city can grown vegetables and can things

My friend Sara grew these amazing cucumbers in her container garden on her patio! I just had to brag since I  #1, sold her the townhome and #2, ate the cucumbers and they were so, so good. You could smell their refreshing yummy-ness all the way across the kitchen when sliced up and the skins were perfect texture, not waxy and tough. They were awesome. I ate a whole one by myself in one sitting. AND, if that isn't impressive enough, she also made homemade pickles and canned them. I didn't even know that was possible any more. I thought you had to find an old lady with the magic touch who could seal up the glass jars for you with her crazy mountain woman skills or something.

Appendix out!

I'm not a big fan of hospitals. With the exception of visiting a mom with her tightly bundled new baby that I get to hold for a few minutes and bounce around like a large peanut, I'm just not that into them. Could be that I like cleanliness, order and for things to just work properly; and in a hospital there's a lot of mess, chaos, and unpredictability. BUT, on the rare occasion that my best friend's daughter goes to have her appendix out, the rules go out the window. I had a fun adventure this evening visiting them and here are a few pictures. The funniest part was that Langley kept calling her bag on wheels that was connected to her arm with a tube, her "situation". She would point to other kids who had one and say, "her sister is pulling her situation for her". So priceless and definitely worth the trip! Langley was such a good patient, never complained once about anything that was happening while I was there. She even tucked in her gown to her skirt before her photo shoot.


Wallpaper Day

First of all, I was writing about my Dining Room last week and how bored I was with it, and a friend emailed me some pictures of wallpapered panels in a DR. She said she was bored with hers and wanted to consider papering some of it. I guess we were on the same brain wave that day.

On top of that, another good friend Sara said that she was thinking about considering some wallpaper for a large, dominant wall in her kitchen around the dining area. Do all people think like this, or just us?

No matter what the odds, we decided it was high time to check out some wallpaper stores around town.

First stop, Wallpaper Plus on Roswell Road between Sandy Springs and Buckhead.

I learned a whole lot, thanks to a great designer who was there and gave us some tips. Here are a few things that I learned about wallpaper and or fabric (they had TONS of that too in amazing books for custom ordering).

1. Don't cover a chair in linen fabric unless you're an "okay with wrinkles" type. Not me. I love the iron, I practically sleep with an iron...just in case.

2. The "young" people are using a wallpaper these days that is floral patterned with velvet accents. I forget the real name of it though.

3. Lots of people are using natural fibered wallpapers and you can get them in lots of colors, not just neutrals.

4. Don't put fabric on a wall where there is a good chance any food smells would be absorbed, like in a Keeping Room or Dining Room.

5. Accent walls papered are going to be around for a while!


Serving others is hard

I can't believe how hard it is to honestly serve another person completely, with no thought of myself.  I am embarrassed at my inability to do this at all. I completely want to do things for others on my time, in my way, and certainly want to be sure it is noticed. If anything comes in the way of that, then look out, my attitude really changes. I hate that this is true about myself and I want to be different. I know it's not possible to muster up a new attitude, but then again those are the fruits of true faith. I have to believe and trust who I am in Christ and not what I do, have done, or will do. I also am free in that position to love others more with no need to prove myself through my works. I am blown away to think of Jesus Christ, living an entire life of service with no hint of selfishness, irritation or annoyance at the needs and requests of others.


Rachel and Jesse's wedding

I'm loving these pictures of my friends who were married last year. Their photographer, Jason Thrasher, just informed them that they are the first gallery on his wedding site. How fun. He did a great job and is testing out a new finish on his photos. Can't believe it's almost been a year! I love the laughing photo (soooo Rachel) and the city of Atlanta at night!


Dining Room love

My Dining Room is boring. White walls, dark table and chairs and one narrow white piece that doesn't stand out at all. I think it's time to rethink it. Here are a few Dining Rooms that I really like.

These two are very different. One is classic and the other very industrial-modern. My client who just purchased her first home today, but is currently living in a really cool loft space, said that when she tried to change her address, they wouldn't because the post office said that she did not live in a "legitimate" home. There are businesses mixed into the community but isn't that what makes lofts so cool? I think this would be my Dining Room if I lived in one. Where has the post office been the last decade? This is my tribute to the end of her time there. Congratulations on your first home!